Musakhan also musakhkhan, msakhan, mosakhan, or ksakhen is one of Palestine’s most cultural foods and it is typically eaten by hands. This dish has been passed down by generations, and will be in the future. Musakhan requires some effort and time until it is done, but it’s worth the effort.
- 1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/ 2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 1/2 pounds onions, peeled and sliced thin
- 1/4 cup sumac
- 4 sheets marquq bread (see the Note below) or 2 large khubz ‘arabi (Arabic flatbread or pita bread), split open and separated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cut the chicken into up into two breasts, two thighs, two legs, and two wings. Salt and pepper the chicken.
- In a large, deep casserole, heat 1/ 4 cup of the olive oil, then lightly brown the chicken on all sides over a medium heat, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining 1/ 4 cup olive oil to the casserole and cook the onions until translucent, about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sumac and cook for 2 minutes to mix.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Cover a 9 x 12-inch baking dish with two overlapping halves of the Arabic bread or 2 sheets of marquq bread. Spoon half the onions over each, then arrange the chicken on top of the onions and cover with the remaining onions and the juices from the casserole. Cover with the two remaining half leaves of bread or sheets of marquq bread, tucking in the sides crusty side up and spray with water. Bake until the chicken is very tender and almost falling off the bone, about 1 1/ 2 hours. Before the top cover of bread begins to burn, spray with water again or cover with aluminum foil.
Note: The size of marquq bread made and sold in the U.S. or Canada varies, so use common sense. It is sometimes found with its Armenian name, lavash bread.